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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  July 11, 2017 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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-- captions by vitac -- i'm anderson cooper. this is cnn special coverage of a major development in the investigation of whether the trump campaign colluded with the russians. donald trump jr. has released an e-mail chain detailing the plan for his secret meeting he had with the russian lawyer last summer during the campaign. a meeting that clearly was set up with the intent of getting incriminating evidence against hillary clinton from the russians. the meeting that we're told the fbi did not know about until now. the first e-mail from rob gold stone, a confidant of the trump family, sent june 3, 2016, reads in part, the crown prosecutor russia met with his father this
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morning and in their meeting offered to provide the trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate hillary and her dealings with russia and would be very useful to your dealing with your father. this is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of russia and its government support for mr. trump. i can also send this info to your father, but it is ultrasensitive so wanted to send to you first. trump jr. then replies, thanks, rob, i appreciate it. if it's what you say, i love it, especially later in the summer. and it appears former campaign manager paul manafort and president trump's son-in-law, jared kushner, knew tbt a e-mail prior to meeting with the attorney because trump jr. forwarded it to them. there's a lot to break down to this afternoon. evan perez joins me now. the lawyer is referred as russian government attorney, something she denies. whether or not she denies it, that's how she was presented by this intermediary to donald trump jr. >> right, anderson, and i think
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this helps crumble further the different explanations of varying and changing explanations that we've heard from donald trump jr. from the white house, from people associated with the trump administration who sort of trying to say that there was nothing here, that they didn't know that this person was a russian, that they didn't know who this person was, which sort of strange because the person was able to get into trump tower, the idea that they didn't know a person coming into trump tower for a meeting last june is sort of laughable. and finally, this idea that they, you know, they repeatedly said that they had no contacts with russians and certainly no contacts about getting damaging information on hillary clinton or helping the trump campaign, all of that sort of crumbles in this series of e-mails, especially the e-mail you just cited where don jr. essentially says, you know, i'm happy about it or i like it when he's told that this is information that the russian government is trying to funnel to the campaign.
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>> and whether or not he knew the name of the attorney, she was described to him as a russian government attorney. >> right. exactly. she's described as a russian government attorney, as you mentioned. she has done interviews in the last 24 hours in which she says that she has no links to the kremlin whatsoever. i think the fbi also has a view that she -- that she has some kind of ties with the russian government and obviously, when this meeting was being set up, anderson, she was being pitched to the -- to donald trump jr. as somebody who came with the information of the russian government, somebody who could help get this damning information on hillary clinton that would be helpful to the campaign. >> yeah, i want to play something that the russian attorney said earlier. let's play this. >> what was the purpose of that meeting? >> translator: i never knew who else would be attending the meeting.
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all i knew that mr. donald trump jr. was willing to meet with me. i could recognize the young gentleman who was only present in the meeting for probably the first seven to ten minutes, and then he stood up and left the room. it was mr. jared kushner, and he never came back, by the way. and the other gentleman who was at the same meeting was always looking at his phone. he was reading something. he never took any active part in the conversation. that was mr. manafort. >> reporter: they had the impression, it appears, that they were going to be told some information that you had about the dnc. how did they get that impression? >> translator: it's quite possible that maybe they were looking for such information. they wanted it so badly. >> reporter: have you ever worked for the russian government? do you have connections to the russian government? >> translator: no. >> that's her speaking to nbc news. let's get reaction to the
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release of these e-mails from the white house. senior white house correspondent jim acosta joins us now. we're being told lawyers have advised the president not to tweet about this. >> reporter: that's right. anderson, we should caution our viewers, we've heard that before, that people inside the white house have urged the president not to tweet about things and of course that has not come to pass. the president has gone on to tweet about sensitive matters, including this russia investigation, but it appears that up until this point, he is heeding that advice. of course the day is young and we'll see how this plays out. anderson, we should point out this is going to be an off camera briefing. even though i'm on camera, the cameras will go off shortly before the deputy press secretary, sarah huckabee sanders comes to the podium and takes these questions about these don trump jr. e-mails. the president on down have denied repeatedly that there were any contacts between the president, his team, his associates, and russians during the course of the campaign, all
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of that now goes by the wayside and even the president's defenders who have described this as a nothing burger would probably have to acknowledge that this is a something burger and even to the president's adversaries, this is starting to look like a steak dinner with all the trimmings. but in the meantime, what we don't have at this point, and typically a white house will wait until the briefing to deliver this kind of statement, what we don't have is any kind of reaction at this point to these e-mails. the white house has not responded to our requests for any kind of statement or response. i did talk to a white house official in the last half hour or so who said, we'll have some response to this during the briefing, although we should caution our viewers, not only is this briefing off camera, but the audio is embargoed until the completion of this briefing so you're not going to hear from sarah huckabee sanders until this is all over. although we will be able to live tweet. you'll get a sense of how the
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white house is responding to all this. but obviously, anderson, this is a very critical day for this white house. it is astonishing to see in these e-mails something that people have been imagining or wondering about for many, many months now, something that the trump campaign officials that we've talked to repeatedly, trump transition officials have said repeatedly and even white house officials have said repeatedly just never went on and as it turns out, not only did it go on, it was the president's own son who was instrumental in putting together this kind of meeting that involved the former campaign chairman, paul manafort, that included the president's son-in-law, jared kushner, who's had to amend his statements time after time after time to account these other, unreported meetings that he's had with russian officials. and so this is going to be a critical day for the white house and sarah huckabee sanders to explain all this. the press secretary, sean spicer, won't be in the room. as you know, anderson, we've been seeing sarah huckabee
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sanders taking these hard questions in the briefing room. >> hard questions, yet not on camera. it's amazing to me that on a day which is so critical for this white house in this ever-evolving story, a story the explanations of which coming from donald trump jr. have changed day after day since the story was first broken by "the new york times," they're not going to go on camera talking about it. >> reporter: that's right, anderson. and you know, i think, at the last second here, it would be extraordinary, and i think it would be very much welcomed by the people in this room if the white house were to announce all of a sudden that this briefing were going to be on camera. i think this is one of those critical days in the timeline of this story where obviously an on-camera response from this white house would be important. but anderson, as you know, for the last several weeks we've been talking about this, they've just been shying away from that kind of -- that level of accountability, that level of transparency, that level of openness in terms of how they're explaining what they're doing over here in the white house, and one of the explanations for having these briefings off
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camera, anderson, has been, well, we don't want to step on the president's message. the president has this statement that he's going to make today. he's going to have that event over in the road garden, have the new england patriots over, going to separate with them their super bowl victory. that's why the briefing is off camera. obviously, anderson, that rationale does not hold any water today because if you look at the president's schedule, there are no open events today. there are no opportunities for the white house press to go in there and hear what he has to say about whatever subject he wants to talk on this day. we should point out, though, when sarah huckabee sanders comes out, we might not get an instantaneous response to these e-mails because one of the other ways they've been trying to sort of get their own message out ahead of some damaging information or damaging stories that might be at the forefront is that they'll have something they want to talk about first. yesterday it was what they deemed to be democratic obstruction of the president's agenda and what he wants to accomplish, and so that took up some time.
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and that has happened from time to time, an administration official will come out and talk for several minutes about a topic that they think is important over here and then we have to get to the questions that we want to ask about the russia investigation and so many other things. so, that may also play out as well when we see this get started orb hear this get started, i should say, in the next few minutes. >> we're obviously going to bring for our viewers, the audio of this briefing as soon as the briefing is completed. and we're able to turn it around. joining me now is david, elizabeth, and paul, cnn's legal analyst. david, i mean, the only reason, it seems, that donald trump jr. released these e-mails or photographs of these e-mails today was because he was made aware that the "new york times" actually had the e-mails and were going to release them. >> yeah. it sort of begs the question, why didn't he do this all in one shot on saturday when he acknowledged the meeting itself? did he think he was really going
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to be able to get away with the explanation that he just had a meeting about adoptions? clearly the times had reporting that the meeting existed. you saw him update his account -- >> in the world of public relations, when you give an explanation, it's usually best if that explanation is accurate so you don't have to give repeated, then, amendments. >> yeah. because it just destroys your credibility with each new version of events. so now he puts the e-mails out, as you noted, because the new york times was going to put them out. what is, again, crystal clear and black and white in these e-mails now and why this is so significant is because he had full understanding that this was the russian government's effort to help his dad's campaign. that's -- that was the pitch. that's why he accepted the meeting. and that is, as much as he would like to portray it as normal campaign operations, is not normal campaign operations. >> also important to point out, whether or not this woman had
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information -- donald trump jr. has made a big deal of saying, what she was saying didn't make any sense. none of that really matters. what matters is what he understood going into this meeting. he was led to believe, as you said, this was part of a russian government effort and that this attorney was a russian government attorney, whether she was or not, she denies she is. >> after having that information, his statement that was sort of a cover letter to the e-mail said, i accepted the meeting, based on that information. >> elizabeth, we've learned that the fbi was unaware of this meeting. what do you make of this entire situation? >> well, it's -- i can't understand why the fbi wasn't aware, but sooner or later, they would be aware because partly they may have been unaware because of false filings that were made by jared kushner and by paul manafort, not disclosing this to the government and jared kushner was -- in order to get top secret clearance, had to report all of his contacts and
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he didn't. his lawyer said it was an error, but the fact of the matter is, this was an important meeting and just to put a fine point on what was just said, it wasn't just that this was a casual meeting. it was such an important meeting to donald trump jr. that he called in the campaign manager, and he called in the -- donald trump's top aide, jared kushner. so this wasn't just a random courtesy meeting. >> we should also -- >> he had the top guns ready meet with the russians. and by the way, the information that he got was that this wasn't just russian information, this was government information at the high level. >> well, also, what's important to point out is that on sunday, in his ever-evolving explanations, donald trump jr. said that he invited manafort and kushner into the meeting but that they had no idea what it was about. in these e-mails, whether the entire e-mail chain that was cc'd, we don't know, but it appears as though, at least part of was cc'd to manafort and
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kushner, explaining what the meeting was. >> right. well, it seems that the word truth is not a word that they understand in english. maybe they understand the russia russian, pravda, and that mefr means truth, but donald trump -- president donald trump has been denying, for months and months and months, that his campaign has had any contact with the russians. he's called it a hoax, false news, fake news, he fired comey, fake news, fake investigation, useless, hoax, and now we see that not that his number one son was meeting with the russians to get russian information to affect a campaign in the united states, and real questions as to whether this amounts to criminal activity, whether it amounts to other kinds of abuse of power, but this is a very, very serious development. >> well, there's still a lot we do not know. there was a phone conversation, according to -- from these e-mails, if they are accurate, from donald trump jr. to this russian pop singer whose father
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is a big real estate developer who was the one apparently initially approached by what was called the crown prosecutor's office in russia, though there is no such thing. that's actually a british term. we don't know the substance of that phone call between donald trump jr. and what was said to him about this information. that would obviously be significant to learn if ever possible. >> yes. and i agree with elizabeth holtzman that you have here a, really, for the first time, i think, a clear trail suggesting russian government direct involvement. and he knew about it. and he thought it so important, he brings in the campaign manager and kushner to the meeting. because bear in mind that the e-mail chain indicates that a designated lawyer, designate bid the russian government, is going to participate in this meeting and supply damaging, incriminating information about hillary clinton.
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what astonishings me, though, anderson, is given the fact that there's been so much focus on the russian investigation, how is it that the president hasn't had a conversation with his own son about his involvement at this stage in the campaign? i mean, it's just -- it defies belief. >> the white house is saying that the president had no knowledge of this. >> the son would have called the father up and said, the russian government would like to meet with me. is it okay to do that? i mean, i can't believe that that kind of contact wouldn't have occur. >> i want to bring in john, former white house counsel to nixon during watergate. john, do you think it's possible at some point the president wasn't informed about this by his own son? if his son has just been informed that the russian government wants donald trump to win as president of the united states, i mean, it's possible, i suppose, that his son would not tell his father that, but that seems like pretty big information.
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>> it seems quite remote he would not tell him, to me. just as an aside, even, say, by the way, somebody is coming in or has been in that reportedly had information on hillary. we're going to get it or we didn't get it, whichever phase of the meeting or side of the meeting that might have happened on. it just -- it just doesn't meet common sense that there wouldn't have been some sharing of information on this. >> also, john, you know, this is what -- all this information is what the "new york times" has been able to discover through great reporting, donald trump jr. has released these e-mails because, i mean, "the new york times," apparently, had the e-mails and so he wanted to be the one to release them before they did. but if this is what reporters have gotten, fbi, congressional investigators, i assume, would have access to even more, perhaps even the phone conversation between this russian pop star and donald trump jr. >> i would think so.
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i'm not -- well, the fbi would be the principal agency to have them. nsa could have picked up some of this, national security agency, with their electronic gathering. that would be shared with congress. congress has no independent, really, facility to gather that kind of information. so i think they do know more than they're letting on. and the fact that "the new york times" did get it suggests they got it from a -- maybe a nongovernmental source. >> everybody just stand by if you could. we are moments away from the white house responding to these e-mails. i'll also speak with one of the top clinton campaign officials for their perspective. we'll be right back. if you have medicare
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[woman] we did it. [man] we're campers. look at us. look at us. it's so nice to get out of the city. it's so... quiet. is it, too quiet? it's awful. yeah.
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feel at home, pretty much wherever you are. t-mobile is america's best unlimited network. well, we continue covering the breaking news, donald trump jr. releasing bombshell e-mails detailing the plan he had for a secret meeting with a russian lawyer that he had last summer during the campaign, a meeting that was clearly set up with the intent of getting incriminating evidence against hillary clinton from the russians and a meeting which was held, donald trump jr. was told that this information came from the russian government and was meeting with a russian government attorney. i want to go to ivan watson live in moscow.
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ivan, you just heard from the pop star at the center of this meeting. can you just explain what role this pop star has in this whole drama and what are they saying now? >> reporter: yeah, he goes on stage simply by the first name emin. his father is a billionaire with the last name agaladav. and they've denied to comment. instead, they've retained an outside counsel, who i just got off the phone with named scott balber. he confirms that the father and son helped facilitate this meeting between donald trump jr. and this lawyer. he confirms that the pop star's son asked his -- effectively, his music promoter, this british pr man named rob goldstone, to help set up the meeting. he denies, however, that the attorney that they were trying to set up the meeting with had anything to do with the russian government, and goes on to say
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that what we've read in the e-mails between donald trump jr. and rob goldstone are, quote, utterly inconsistent with what our understanding of what the purpose of the meeting was. he goes on to say, it was never our understanding, neither then nor now, to communicate negative information about hillary clinton, nor was it our understanding that the meeting had anything to do with the election or the prospective election campaign of mr. trump. now, i asked, what was the relationship between this russian lawyer, natalia veselnitskaya, and the pop star, and his representative says, well, she was just an acquaintance. i then asked, well, why did the pop star, emin, go to such lengths to set up a meeting with donald trump jr.? it was very important at that time, in the time of the electoral calendar, and he said, well, i don't really know the answer to that. that's kind of what you do in business. you set up meetings for other
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people. so, that is the agalarov family's vurersion of what transpired. finally, i asked about this promoter, rob goldstone, why did he write in his e-mails that he had secret, sensitive information from the russian government that was going to help the trump campaign and that the agalarovs had met with a russian prosecutor to help get this information? well, their attorney denies that any meeting with a russian prosecutor took place, and when it comes to rob goldstone's statements in the e-mails, they say, hey, he is somebody who works in the entertainment industry. he's not somebody in politics or even really in business or a journalist, so he simply didn't necessarily know what exactly he was writing about. again, their version of what took place in those e-mails. >> what seems to undercut, though, their explanation that the representative has given you is that according to these e-mails, donald trump jr.'s own
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e-mails, donald trump jr. called, as the first step, before this meeting even took place, called this russian pop star, apparently -- or was called by him soon after he got off stage in order to find out more about the reason for the meeting and whether it was worth having, and then after having had that discussion, it seems, through the e-mails, that they had a discussion. the meeting then was scheduled. so, what we don't know is what was said in that phone call, but whatever it was was important enough to donald trump jr. that he continued to have the meeting. >> reporter: absolutely. and you know, this family, this businessman family based here in russia, they have close ties -- they've had long ties with the trump family. they helped put on the 2013 miss universe contest together. the pop star, emin, he boasts on his website that he is the only entertainer who's gotten donald
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trump sr., the president, to appear in one of his music videos, and there was a fair amount of back and forth on social media between these families going back to 2013 where then donald trump sr. publicly tweeted about possibly building a trump tower here in moscow with the father, the billionaire, agalarov. so these are families that knew each other and as recently as november 2016, shortly after donald trump won the election, the pop star, emin, gave an interview to russian state tv in which he boasted about how good his relationship was with the trump children. he said, i've had ivanka trump in my office to talk about building a trump tower, and he said that he frequently messages with both eric and don jr. so this family, they are well known to the trump family and perhaps that contributes to why they were willing to take in a
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stranger, essentially, this necessa mysterious lawyer, natalia veselnitskaya. >> we should also point out that the billionaire father of this pop star -- does he have connections to the russian government? i understand he received a high order medal and he's a billionaire real estate developer, which i imagine is not an easy thing to accomplish without some sort of help from the russian government. >> reporter: that's right. he did receive a medal of honor from vladimir putin directly. i believe it was in 2013. and yes, while he owns shopping malls and even local franchises of the nobu restaurant and a number of other businesses, i asked their attorney, hey, does this family work for the russian government? and he said, unequivocally, no. but the fact is, there's a lot of government contracting going on here, and on the family, on their company's website, the crocus group, they say, for
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instance, they're involved in building stadiums for the upcoming fifa world cup here in russia, and they've been involved in building things like universities. that's perhaps participant of why he got that medal of honor. so, the -- in russia, and in the russian economy, to get permission to embark on large real estate development projects like this, you would certainly need to cultivate very strong relationships with important people in the russian government, if not the kremlin itself. >> all right, but important to point out the father is -- the family is denying connections to the kremlin. a spokesman for hillary clinton says they have no comment. let's talked to someone who worked very closely with the clinton 2016 presidential kpa , campaign, also former special assistant to president george w. bush. brian, we now have seen these e-mails, donald trump jr. released them, once, apparently, he realized that "the new york
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times" was going to be releasing them. does the story, for you, change at all now that you've seen these e-mails? >> well, it's certainly the biggest bombshell to emerge to date, anderson, not just because it so clearly demonstrates intent on the part of donald trump jr. but also because it implicates someone who's only one degree removed from the president himself. we're now talking about a member of the first family engaged in what appears to be outright collusion with russian government officials. i think what's also interesting here is how suggestive it is that there's probably more stuff to come. because if you think about what this e-mail reveals, it shows that members of the first family were not above directly transacting business with representatives of the russian government. they didn't try to outsource this to an intermediary. they were inept enough to actually sit down and engage in these meetings personally. number two, they were stupid enough to leave a paper trail. it's amazing to me that there was this much explicit communication over e-mail, and so it's impossible to think that this line of communication was
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shut off after june 8, between this publicist and donald trump jr. so, what else may emerge in this investigation in terms of other e-mails or contacts that happened in the ensuing months where russia's involvement in the election only got more intense. >> i just want to give an update. there's a white house briefing that's not on camera, no surprise there, we're obviously going to bring you the full white house briefing, the audio of it as soon as we're able to, but just in, sarah huckabee sanders read a short statement from pluresident trump, in it, said, "my son is a high quality person, and i applaud his transparency." that's the quote. "my son is a high quality person and i applaud his transparency." scott, i mean, is this a meeting that, if you were on this campaign, you would have recommended donald trump jr. to have? what do you make of this e-mail chain? >> no, this is not a meeting you would want to take. it was a dumb meeting to take. it was a stupid idea to take it and i'm sure in retrospect, anybody who was involved in it
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would have to admit that. and you can't really make excuses for it, ooenld. you can try to explain it and one possible explanation is these are folks that were not acquainted with high level presidential campaigns and this is a meeting they wouldn't have taken if they had had more experience. one thing the president can do right now, and i know you read a statement from him, is to make a strong statement about russian meddling in the election. a lot of republicans agree the russians tried to meddle in the election. that's different than collusion and i think if the president were to take an even bolder step forward and acknowledging russian meddling in the election and encouraging the transparency from people on his team, including his son, to follow through on their promises to answer questions, that would show a chief executive in charge of the situation and in command of what's happening in washington right now that's unfolding before our eyes. we don't have any evidence that any collusion took place yet. but questions have to be answered.
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they've offered to answer them. and i think those things really need to speed up at this point. >> it does seem the e-mails, though, do seem to indicate that donald trump jr. was open to the idea of collusion. i mean whether or not this attorney represented the russian government, that's how she was pitched to him, and he went for that pitch hook, line, and sinker right away with great enthusiasm and not only that, was told that the information came from the russian government. whether or not any of that was true, the fact that he believed it, scott, isn't that incredibly important here? >> it's very important. and i hope it was borne out of ignorance that these aren't the kinds of meetings you would ordinarily take in a high level presidential campaign situation like this. i do think it's important to remember that donald trump jr., through his lawyer, has said he is going to answer questions. one issue about these investigations, anderson, is that they could take a very long time. they may take months and months and months, but given some of the e-mails that have been released and some of the things we know, and some of the questions that have been asked,
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if it were me, and i were thinking about not just the legal issue here but the pr issue, i would want to get the people who have offered to answer questions in front of investigators as soon as possible to show that, hey, we want to answer questions, we want to acknowledge this stuff that's out there, and we want to show transparency. the president's statement today used the word transparency, so i think that's a good strategy to pursue. >> you know, brian, i mean, you're a professional spokesperson. you know about how sort of how run reveals damaging information. the idea that the president is praising his son's transparency, is transparency giving one explanation on a saturday about this meeting, saying it was about russian adoptions, and then having to give another statement, and then another and having to release, finally, release the e-mails that you've had all along, because "the new york times" is about to release them? that doesn't seem like the definition of transparency. >> of course not. and it's clear that he only released the e-mails because "the new york times" was about
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to publish them and if you just think back, every explanation that's been put forward by the defenders of this administration has proven to be not valid and they've had to retreat from it. if you think back initially, there were disputes about whether the russians were behind this hack. then there were disputes about whether the russians were doing it for the express purpose of trying to help donald trump. then the line from the trump camp was, we didn't have any meetings with russians. then they said, there wasn't any outright collusion. this e-mail is pretty stark evidence that there was so now they're defeating to a defense that donald trump jr. was just too unfisophisticated to know tt it was unethical to collude openly with a foreign adversary. tinge explanations are shifling up here. i think this investigation is probably going to take a long while to play out but what i do think should rouse republicans on capitol hill to act is the fact that this is playing out with respect to u.s. foreign policy towards russia, so the president continues to want to we weaken the russia sanctions.
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the president is apparently entertaining the idea of giving back spy compounds inside the united states territory to the russians. so as we speak, the president is still carrying out a foreign policy that is shockingly favorable to vladimir putin, and you have to assume it's part of a quid pro quo based on help that was provided during the campaign. >> i appreciate both of you being with us. i want go to michael zeldin, robert mueller's former special assistant at the state department. first of all, your take upon seeing these e-mails. >> there are a couple of things to think about here. first is, of course, donald trump jr.'s evolving truth and that's not helpful to him and i've thought all along that the biggest threat, legally, to the trumps is when they have to tell their story under oath been mueller because they seem to have a distant relationship with truth-telling and that could be very problematic under the laws that govern truth-telling in a grand jury. secondly, i think that with respect to donald jr., there are
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probable federal election campaign violations, the solicitation of something of value, probably was implicated by his conduct. for manafort and kushner, the leaving out of this meeting on their security clearance forms becomes much more profoundly important to them. it seems to me that leaving this out is emblematic of something that's untruthful or hiding in their behavior. so, you could say, maybe, they made a mistake at one point, and they've now corrected it. but leaving out a meeting that seems to be as important as this, to me, raises lots of red flags about whether they intended to tell the truth to begin with. the other thing that i find intere interesting -- >> just another thing on that point. not only did jared kushner need to amend his statement on -- for his security credentials, he then had to amend them again, we understand, more recently. i don't know if it was in
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relation to this investigation, but the idea that you would have to amend it more than once seems extraordinary. >> well, that's right. especially in respect of this meeting, given what appears to be its significance. and so, you know, if you have hundreds of meetings, as his attorney said he has, and you forget one that seems to be of minor consequence, fair enough. but this meeting seems to be of major consequence in political terms, and that's one that you don't leave out. the other thing, anderson, that strikes me as very interesting, is i can't, in my mind, yet decouple the adoption conversation from the help get dirt on hillary clinton conversation. because it seems to me that there's the possibility that the conversation goes, we will give you information with respect to hillary clinton if you can deal with the sanctions issue, which is adoption is just a proxy for sanctions. and so, if they're tying dirt
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to -- on her to the release of sanctions or sort of sanctions release, i think that's way more problematic for all three of these men than is yet presently known to them. so, i just can't separate those two in my mind. they're too integrally related to one another. >> michael, i appreciate your perspective. thank you. we need to take a quick break. we're moments away from the white house responding to these e-mails. stand by for that. but who takes care of mom? office depot/office max. this week, get this ream of paper for just one cent after rewards. ♪ taking care of business. theso when i need to book tant to mea hotel room,tion. i want someone that makes it easy. gets it. and with their price match, i know i'm getting the best price every time. visit booking.yeah!
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back to our breaking news on donald trump jr.'s e-mails in a moment, but first, we're also covering breaking developments out of the senate. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell delaying the august recess in hopes of getting an agreement on a new health care bill. mcconnell confirms a new health care bill would be unveiled on thursday and a cbo score is expected next week. senator lindsey graham announcing that he is working on a strategy proposal of his own with other senators. very significant that mcconnell has decided to delay the recess for senators. >> it shows just what a moving target this is. we of course remember that the initial plan for this was to have a vote on this before the july fourth recess. that obviously didn't happen. you know, in this in some ways is what donald trump has talked about, other republicans have talked about delaying this recess to see if they can get something done. it speaks, i think, to the urgency of them needing to get something done, to deliver on that promise to the base that
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they will repeal and replace something but it also speaks to how complicated this is. if you've seen over the last couple of days, they seem to lose more people than they gain. there are about ten people who have come out and said they can't support this bill in its present form, people like susan collins out of maine essentially saying the whole thing needs to be redone so on the one hand, there is some progress but it's still very far from clear whether or not this is something we can get done. we do know that when there is a big bill like this, we remember discussions in 2009 and 2010, it was dead and reborn and even the bill out of the house, you know, was on life support and died and was brought back to life. so i think that is a cycle that we may be able to expect from here, but again, it's a moving target and a work in progress, this whole bill-al. >> also interesting that lindsay graham said he's working on a bill with senators. >> with democratic senators and
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democratic senators essentially saying the repeal part of the repeal and replace mantra has to be off the table if you're going to be able to bring democrats in there, people like susan collins saying they don't want to go down the path of obamacare, which of course was approved with only democrats. they want to have a more bipartisan bill. we'll see what happens. >> thanks very much. appreciate it. more on our breaking news. donald trump jr. releasing bombshell e-mails detailing the plan for a secret meeting he had with a russian lawyer last summer with the promise of incriminating evidence of hillary clinton and the promise that this came from the -- or the idea that this came from the russian government and that the lawyer he was going to meet with, which he has previously said he had no idea who she was, in the e-mails, she is described as a russian government attorney. i'm joined by steve hall. steve, based on what you know, i mean, the idea that, i mean, this russian attorney has denied that she has ties to the kremlin, that she works for the government in any way, but if
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the russian government did want to give information or wanted to remember to the trump campaign's interest in receiving information, is this a way that they might go about doing it? >> yeah, you're asking exactly the right question, anderson. if i'm the russian intelligence officer who's responsible for this operation, and it would be normal in the russian context for the russian special services, their intelligence services, to be the ones behind this, what you're going to look for is, okay, we need to find out whether or not the trump team, as, you know, prior to the election, is actually willing to play ball, is willing to have at least a conversation. the russians are very well versed in our sort of western business approach. oh, it's just a meeting, it's just, you know, it's just a blue sky session, we're not really talking about anything serious. and they know that that's how westerners come at this, and so it would be very normal for them to find somebody who's not a specific member of the russian government, somebody like veselnitskaya, and use her essentially as a cutout and go in and say, look, let's see if there is any interest in this.
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that would be very consistent with their m.o. she would not necessarily have to have any of the information, and she might go on -- go into that meeting, you know, with another pretext, but the end goal of it for the russian intelligence services and for the russian government would be to say, let's just see if we can get somebody in the campaign to say, yeah, we can talk about that. and then they know that they're halfway home. >> in this case, they got a meeting with the president's eldest son, one floor right below where the president-elect or then the candidate had his office. steve, a lot more to talk to you about. i've got to toss it, though, the white house briefing, the audio of it now, we're able to bring it to you. this is sarah huckabee sanders giving the white house briefing today. let's listen in. thanks, sarah. at what point did the president discuss with donald trump jr. that meeting? have you had a chance to get a sense of what he feels about this entire story as it continues to unfold? what's your sense on that?
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>> i have a quick statement that i will read from the president. "my son is a high quality person, and i applaud his transparency." and beyond that, i'm going to have to refer everything on this matter to john jr.'s counsel and outside counsel and won't have anything else to add beyond that today. >> is that the -- >> that's the end. i'm sorry. >> if i could follow up really quickly about the accident. how soon afterwards did the president learn about what happened? what was the tick tock in terms of that? did he get immediate word or did that sort of go through a concerted chain? >> i'm not sure on the exact process. i'll have to check. i know he was aware of the situation, briefed on the situation, and continued to get updates on it. but i don't know the exact tick tock, so i have to circle back with you on that, kevin. jill. >> sarah, somebody who was identified as a russian
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government lawyer, don jr. agreeing to meet with him, being told in those e-mails that the russian government was trying to help the president win the election, do you stand bay statement you made yesterday when you said that our position is that no one within the trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election. >> i do, and beyond the statements yesterday and what i read today, i don't have anything else to add. >> when's the last time -- do you know when the last time the president spoke with don jr.? >> i don't. matthew. >> thanks. so the white house hasn't disputed any of the following that the president son campaign, campaign chair, and son-in-law had this meeting, and with knowledge of the russian government supporting trump campaign. how is that not collusion? >> once again, i know you guys are going to get tired of it today and not to sound like a broken record, but on all questions related to this matter, i would refer you to don jr.'s counsel and the outside counsel. >> but you're not disputing any of the facts.
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>> i'm simply referring you to people that can answer that question, matthew. alex. >> sarah, in january, the president said that nobody in his campaign had been in touch with the russians and the white house stood by that statement. was the president misled or was he not truthful? >> once again, to repeat myself, i'm going to refer you to the outside counsel, and i don't have anything else to add. >> sarah, can we ask you, why were you interested in answering questions yesterday and why the president is not answering questions himself, either through you or directly today. >> the president -- >> what changed between yesterday and today? >> look, the president gave a statement on the matter, which i read to you, and like i've said, i don't have anything else to add beyond that. >> is the president still of a mind that he would like the
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investigation on this special counsel and the committees on capitol hill to work as expeditiously as possible and he wants to cooperate and wants his family members and his top aides from the white house to cooperate. >> absolutely. that's never changed since day one. we'd love to get this matter closed and focus on the big priorities of the american people. >> sarah, by not answering questions directly himself, or through you, is that, in his mind, expediting the investigation? or is it blocking the investigation? >> i'm not going to get into the back and forth on that. >> sarah, when the white house says there was no collusion, what does the white house mean? what's the definition of collusion? >> again, i've said all that we're going to say on that matter and anything further, you're going to have to each out to outside counsel. >> sarah, the words collusion have been used. other words, obstruction of justice. they're saying now that's not even half of it.
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could be treason or perjury. what does the white house have to say with new terms brought into this, more serious terms brought into this. >> i don't know how many times we'll have to address this. >> i'm not asking about don jr. i'm asking about these words being brought into this equation that you want this -- this white house wants this whole investigation to be gone. the new words now brought in. >> i think those new words are ridiculous. >> two questions for you. first, asking specifically about actions taken by white house staff in the last 72 hours -- actions taken by white house staff recently, to something that should not require you conferring with special counsel. can you talk about who inside the white house has been involved in your response on this, has the president been kept in the loop and the chief of staff, others in the administration, are you looking into the potential communications by others on the white house staff with regards
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to this matter or several matters. >> all of the appropriate parties have been a part of that conversation and part of that discussion. >> second question. jared kushner was apparently forwarded the same e-mail. is he still -- is his security clearance still valid right now? >> as always, we've never discussed the security clearance of any -- >> one more. yesterday, you said you'd check back to us on the status of the -- how the president views the u.s./russia relationship. so, is russia friend or foe. >> again, i haven't had a chance to have that direct conversation. i've been a little preoccupied with other things. but i certainly will check on that. >> policy question on afghanistan. so, has the president, through h.r. mcmasters, notified the pentagon that he is reasserting the cap of 3900 additional troops to afghanistan, initially as reported that he had given the pentagon and general mattis authority to increase the troop
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numbers in accordance with the strategy. it's now been reported that a memo from h.r. mcmaster said it's now limited at 3,900 and no more troops, regardless of the strategy. can you tell us if that's true. >> i'm not aware of that specific memo but i will check into the specific details of that and circle back with you. >> can you tell us how seriously the president considered the idea of using private time trackers to augment u.s. personnel on the ground in afghanistan, as opposed to u.s. military personnel. >> i know that we feel it's important to get input from all perspectives, and all of the right people were part of that process throughout, and any conversation. look, we've used contractors extensively over the last 16 years. currently, there are tens of thousands of contractors that are bravely serving alongside a lot of the u.s. military and coalition forces, and we're finalizing the review fully of
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the afghanistan policy, and it only makes sense to consult those leaders in the field as well. and that's simply just part of the review process. >> when you say the right people, does that include eric prince? >> i meant from our inside, internally, all of the right people would be part of that process. >> can you confirm if eric prince was part of the conversations about the contract. >> i can't. i can not at this time. but i'll check and let you know. >> on the president's statement, because you can talk about that, i would assume, since you read it to us. what transparency is the president applauding? >> i believe the willingness on behalf of everyone within the administration or anything beyond that -- i'm trying to finish my sentence. and anyone beyond that that might be asked questions. the willingness to do so and to be fully transparent and open and answer any questions through the correct process. whether that is through special
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counsel or anything beyond that. >> sarah, is the president aware as he speaks about the transparency of his son that he only released those e-mails after being informed that the "new york times" was about to publish them? >> i'm not sure. >> let me ask about what we talked about in appropriateness. why is it appropriate for a presidential campaign to accept a meeting with a russian national after being promised high level and sensitive information presented as part of a -- part of russia and its government's support for mr. trump. explain to americans why that would be appropriate. >> again, i'm not going to get into the details of anything surrounding this, and would refer you to don jr.'s counsel. >> do you stand by your statement -- >> as i mentioned earlier, i stand by everything that i said yesterday. >> the vice president, through his spokesman, said today that mr. pence is not -- about the campaign, particularly stories about the time before he joined the ticket. that's been taken by many people in this town to suggest that there is a distance between the president and the vice president
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on this. is there such a distance? >> not at all. there's absolutely no distance between the president and the vice president. >> do you know if the president has spoken to the vice president about this? >> i don't know if they've spoken directly about this, but i know they've spoken today. >> one more question. there are lots of people who would like to know why this briefing was off camera today. do you have a rationale for it? >> as we've said many times before, i believe sean stated back in december, we're always looking at different approaches and different ways to communicate the president's message and talk about the agenda. this is one of the many ways we choose to do that. >> i'm going to take two bites of this apple as well. >> let's not break precedent. >> the stock market sharply declined today on the release of the e-mails by don jr., and so i'm wondering if you're concerned that it's going to impact the u.s. economy and if you want to offer any assurances to investors that see this news and are obviously responding. >> look, the president, as he has been, not just since assuming office but throughout
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the campaign, is focused on doing everything he can to strengthen and grow our economy, and that certainly hasn't changed today, nor will it at any point that he's president. >> and then go back to the statement that you read, the president says that he applauds don jr.'s transparency. i'm wondering if you would commit now to disclosing any meetings that happened between russian nationals and members of the trump campaign toward that sort of -- >> there's nothing that i'm aware of at this time. >> yesterday, you compared the meeting to -- coordination. do you feel that coordinating with any -- all countries in the world are pretty much the same? that there's no difference between ukraine and russia or any other country? >> i think it would depend on the nature. i mean, i can't speak about theoretical or hypothetical situations. >> just take ukraine and russia. do you feel that they're equivalent? >> in what way? >> well -- >> i mean, they're two very
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different countries. i'm not going to put them on an equivalent playing field across the board on any matter that could possibly come up. >> do you consider them both, you know, allies, partners of the united states or adversaries? in what way are they similar? >> i was talking about the process, not the two countries. i was talking about the process that had been gone through by both sides. that was all -- that was the only point i was make pfg okay, but i thought you were saying if it was okay for hillary to coordinate with the ukraine or to meet with ukraine about possible informs that might be relevant to the campaign, it would be equally okay to meet with russians about information. >> i was talking about simply the process and nothing beyond that. >> do you still think it was okay, put aside the issue of collusion, is it appropriate to meet with russians about information they might have. >> as i've said earlier, i stand by the comments i made yesterday. >> two quick questions for you. have you